Concrete Pillars

Top 5 Vacation Destinations in the

Southern Hemisphere (Part 3)

Author Bio

In case you haven’t read the first posts in this series, please note that I flipped the globe above vertically to help visualize the Southern Hemisphere’s “down under” location.

Our top 5 vacation destinations in the Southern Hemisphere all sit south of the Equator.

In Parts 1 and 2, we talked about New Zealand and Botswana.

Our visit to the top 5 vacation destinations in the Southern Hemisphere continues at two cities that are very near Antarctica. One sits in Argentina and the other in Chile.

Since you may not have read Parts 1 and 2 yet, let me note that when you’re hot in the Northern Hemisphere, you can find your cool in the Southern Hemisphere. When you’re cool at home up north, you can find your hot “down under”. All seasons reverse when you cross the Equator.

Now! Go ahead and start a packing list as you read, because you’re going to want to fly away right now to the first of our two South American cities.

Southern Hemisphere Vacation Destination #3 – Ushuaia, Argentina

Ushuai Half Globe

Ushuaia takes top billing as Argentina’s southernmost city – and the southernmost city in the world. What a place! You’ll want to be sure you include Ushuaia as one of your top 5 vacation destinations in the Southern Hemisphere.

Look at the map of the half-globe above. The snowcap at the top of the map is Antarctica. Antarctica reaches a snowy finger northward toward the tapering finger of South America – as though the two continents are trying to touch.

We see the resort town of Ushuaia, Argentina at the tip of South America’s finger of land. Listen and learn to say this city’s Yaghan language name as the Spanish-speaking Argentinians say it by clicking here.

What does “Ushuaia” mean? The name of this beautiful place means “deep bay” or “bay to background” – and it’s definitely a beautiful background. This photo taken by ASTER, one of five Earth-observing instruments, shows some of that beauty from the sky.

Ushuaia from Satellite

Image credit: NASA/METI/AIST/Japan

When you, on your direct flight from Buenos Aires, come in over the deep bay, you may feel like you’re going to miss the seemingly short runway and land in the bay!

I always get that feeling when landing over water, so Ushuaia’s runway reminds me of arriving in Japan over Tokyo Bay. It also reminds me of arriving in Oahu, Hawaii on the world’s first major runway built completely on an offshore reef. Wow!

The landing strip at Ushuaia International Airport may seem short, but don’t worry. Pilots set down Boeing 747s regularly on its 2,800-meter length – with 500 meters to spare.

So here you are, ready to see why I’m including Ushuaia!

You’ve spent the last three and a half hours enthralled by views of the southern Andes Mountain Range on one side and blue-water-edged coastlands on the other side. Now you step from the plane eager to see Ushuaia. Go ahead and clear customs. Take a short taxi ride into the city – and step into the friendly, enthusiastic welcome of a 71,000-strong population of your new friends.

Ushuaia is the heart of the Tierra del Fuego Island, and people flock to the Tierra del Fuego National Park at the End of the World (nickname).

If you’d rather not fly, you can drive or ride a bus to Ushuaia, taking a ferry to cross the southern tip of Chile’s territory. Arriving by water gives you a stunning perspective on the reason for Ushuaia’s “bay to background” name. My college roommate refused to take the overland route, however, since roads are rough and long. I recommend the comfortable flight from Buenos Aires.

Ushuaia Argentina

Why make Ushuaia YOUR vacation destination?

First ~ Ushuaia is the world’s most southerly cruise port – with various exciting cruises to Antarctica, complete with circling albatrosses above, penguins and sea lions on the shores. That cruise draws more than 50,000 of Ushuaia’s visitors every year!

I’d taught students about Antarctica They described The Ice (nickname) as the coldest, driest, most remote, and windiest of the world’s seven continents. Never did I read, however, that civilians could travel to bleak Antarctica.

You might be surprised, as I was, to learn that upwards of 45,000 people visit Antarctica in just one season. You could be one of those visitors!

Ushuaia bids bon voyage to explorers of all ages weekly during summer in the Southern Hemisphere – November or December through February or March.

Cruise cost is steep for some budgets, but specials are available if you are able to book as much as 12 to 18 months in advance.

PenguinThis once-in-a-lifetime destination is packed with memorable experiences!

Imagine visiting penguins in the wildness of Antarctica!

Get ready to share a walk on the rocky beach with a variety of these teetering, clown-like birds. You are the one who will have to share, however, and make way for the penguins. This is their home, and they have free rein to waddle to the water, go fishing beneath ice slabs, and return to reclaim their beach.

Keep your distance from the seals and sea lions while your camera captures their downtime on ice slab recliners. Watch for giant, wandering albatross in soaring flight over your head. Keep your eyes open for whales – you’ll see humpbacks, killer whales, and other types breaking the surface.

You’ll receive guidelines to keep you safe while you visit, and to protect the wild life on Antarctica. You’ll want to take time to read these regulations and suggestions.

In the midst of your excitement at seeing the Antarctic, you’ll want to remember to keep a safe distance from all kinds of wildlife, whether it’s in the ocean or on the land.

Also, be sure you listen to the tour guide – and know your limitations. If you can’t hike a mile in your local park at home, you’ll find it even more of a task to hike a mile in the frigid Antarctic – and you’ll be bundled in layers of protective clothing.

In a nutshell, those are reasons enough to make Ushuaia your vacation destination. They’re the reason for a vast number of Ushuaia’s annual visitors.

There is more to Ushuaia, of course, than the deep bay cruise ships that visit the harbor weekly.

You might be satisfied just to be that close to Antarctica – or your bank account may keep you from taking a cruise.

Let’s look at what other excitement this southernmost city presents.

Second ~ Ushuaia is a gateway to Tierra del Fuego National Park – with forests, hikes, lakes, and even skiing if you go during Southern Hemisphere’s winter!

Imagine looking across the Beagle Channel from Ushuaia and seeing the snow-capped tops of the rugged Andes Mountains as they reach their southern end!

Trekking in Tierra del Fuego National Park can open your eyes to flora and fauna that you may never see at home. Take a 4WD adventure, and you can choose from park roads that take you to hidden land lakes and stunning views in the Andes Mountains.

If you’re more intrepid than I am, you might choose to visit Cape Horn – the last bit of land before the wild southern seas. Thousands of seafarers have died while trying to sail around this dangerous cape. These days, even though ships are stronger than they once were, captains avoid the heavy Cape Horn seas and opt instead for the more protected Drake Passage or the Strait of Magellan.

The Beagle Channel (seen in the distance of the above photo) is a third option for water travel, and the experience of sailing the Beagle Channel in a small boat is a must for anyone who loves the water. Small boats are not for those of us who have motion sickness, of course. We’re better off on larger cruise ships, but if you can handle small craft travel, you should definitely consider a trip through the Beagle Channel.

Imagine going down to the Ushuaia port and choosing the size boat you want. Soon, you’re on your way, skirting the bay, and heading off into the heart of the channel. You haven’t gone far when you see a large colony of sea lions basking on an Island.

Even without the larger cruise to Antarctica, you can expect the high-cruising albatross birds to appear above you.

Ushuaia Sea Lions

We’ve just scratched the surface of this fascinating vacation destination, but you can read more at

Before going, why not read The Road to Ushuaia: The World’s Southest Town a paperback published March 8, 2011 by Patrick & June Ellam You can order it from Amazon at

Who knows, perhaps you will decide to explore the road less traveled to Ushuaia!


Of the top 5 vacation destinations in the Southern Hemisphere, I will probably never visit this one in person. My college roommate (and maid of honor) went with friends, and wrote me wonderful tales of what they saw and did – but I have not been able to go.

Nevertheless, I have it on good authority (from her and others) that this is a spectacular and truly unforgettable vacation destination.

Map Photo: Strebe [CC-BY-SA 3.0 (]